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a branch of animal husbandry concerned with the raising of domestic fowl. Poultry are raised primarily for eggs and meat; down and feathers are secondary products. Of all domestic fowls, chickens are the most important producers; chickens of egg-producing lines are used for the production of eggs sold as food. Chickens of meat breeds and lines, ducks, turkeys, geese, and, less often, guinea fowl and quail are used in the production of poultry meat. World egg production totaled 17.3 million tons in 1965 and 22.3 million tons in 1972; world poultry meat production was 11.6 million tons from 1961 to 1965 (average per year) and 18.9 million tons in 1972.
Poultry husbandry originated in India, with the domestication of jungle fowl approximately 3,000 years ago. The domestication of fowl spread to Persia and then to Egypt and other countries. The raising of domestic geese and ducks in Europe and Asia is mentioned in writings dating from several centuries before the Common Era. Turkeys were domesticated in America and were first brought to Europe in the 16th century. With the development of poultry husbandry, breeds of domestic poultry were introduced: for example, Faverolle chickens, Rouen ducks, and Toulouse geese in France; Sussex and Dorking chickens in England; and Iurlovka Loud-voiced chickens and Kholmogory geese in Russia.
In Russia, poultry were primarily raised on peasant farms. There were fattening farms only in a few provinces. The development of poultry husbandry as a branch of agriculture began in the 1920’s with the organization of kolkhoz poultry farms, stock selection and breeding centers, poultry hatcheries, and incubator houses. The first poultry sovkhozes were set up in 1925. Centers for raising chickens in cage batteries were established in 1930, and farms for intensive poultry raising were organized between 1930 and 1932.
In 1963 the Soviet government began to organize poultry meat and egg production on a commercial basis. Trusts of government specialized poultry farms were established, and the Ptitseprom (Poultry Industry) directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture of the USSR was set up. The Ptitseprom unites (as of Jan. 1, 1975) 608 poultry farms, 180 poultry-breeding enterprises, 304 poultry sovkhozes, and 751 poultry hatcheries. From 1965 to 1970, farms of the Ptitseprom of the USSR annually produced an average of 7.2 billion eggs and 189,900 tons of meat; in 1974 22 billion eggs and 561,000 tons of meat were produced. The average annual egg production was 188 eggs per chicken on collective poultry farms (kolkhozes) in 1973 and 222 eggs per chicken on Ptitseprom farms in 1974.
In 1973 approximately 1,800 kolkhozes and 646 sovkhozes had farms with flocks of 10,000 to 50,000 individuals. On many farms the annual egg production is more than 200 eggs per laying hen. Production enterprises, which include scientific institutions in addition to the industrial units, are set up on a contractual basis. Poultry products obtained on a household plot are used by the household, and the surplus is sold to the state or at kolkhoz markets. Egg production in the USSR was 29.1 billion in 1965, 40.7 billion in 1970, and 51.1 billion in 1973; annual poultry meat production was 1,237,000 tons between 1966 and 1970 and 1,285,500 tons in 1973. State purchases increased from 10.5 billion eggs in 1965 to 27.6 billion in 1973. Products from kolkhozes accounted for more than 95 percent of the state purchases.
The technology of intensive poultry husbandry ensures the regular production of eggs and meat. Eggs for hatching are produced throughout the entire year on reproduction farms. On broiler farms, meat chicks are raised for slaughter, and the carcasses are processed. At enterprises specializing in egg production replacement pullets are raised to replenish the flock of laying hens. Large specialized farms, kolkhozes, and sovkhozes supply smaller farms with hybrid chicks or purebred young of other poultry species. Commercial farms raise the young fowl for meat or to replenish a hen flock (in egg production). Poultry-packing plants kill, dress, and market the poultry. Some plants produce powdered eggs, canned meat, mélange, and articles made from down and feathers.
The use of hybrid poultry (obtained by crossbreeding chickens of meat or egg lines), which surpass the parent birds in productivity and viability, is most effective in egg and meat production. In the USSR, lines of egg (Leghorn, Russian White) and dual-purpose (New Hampshire, Moscow) breeds and breed groups are used to obtain hybrid laying hens. Hybrid broilers are most often obtained by crossing Cornish and White Plymouth Rock chickens. The most common turkey breeds are the Northern Caucasus, Bronze Broad-breasted, and White Broad-breasted; the most common duck breeds are the Pekin and Ukrainian; and the most common goose breeds include the Large Gray and the Kholmogory.
A network of pedigree farms has been created to carry out pedigree work in poultry husbandry. Selection and genetics stations develop breeds and highly productive lines, which are then bred and improved at breeding farms, with an allowance for zonal conditions. Eggs for hatching and chicks of the lines to be crossed are taken to reproduction farms for mating and crossbreeding. The young hybrids are then reared at poultry farms, hatcheries, kolkhozes, and sovkhozes.
In intensive poultry husbandry, large numbers of poultry are concentrated in confined areas. They are kept in poultry houses, in cages or on the ground. The microclimate is regulated in buildings with a large number of birds. Poultry husbandry is the branch of animal raising with the most mechanized and automated production processes (hatching the young; dispensing the food and water; cleaning the buildings; collecting, cleaning, and sorting the eggs; and dressing the carcasses).
The further development of poultry husbandry is linked first and foremost with the strengthening of the feed base, the foundation of which is grain, oil-seed meals, dry animal feeds, yeast, vitamin-rich grass meal, synthetic amino acids, mineral feeds, vitamin supplements, and biologically active substances. Most farms use nutritionally balanced dry rations to achieve high productivity.
Scientific research in poultry husbandry in the USSR is conducted by the All-Union Scientific Research and Technological Institute of Poultry Husbandry, the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of the Poultry-processing Industry, the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Poultry Husbandry, the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of the Breeding and Genetics of Agricultural Animals, the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Poultry Diseases, zonal scientific research institutes of agriculture, experiment stations, and agricultural colleges. Research in this field is coordinated by the All-Union Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Poultry specialists are trained by colleges and technical schools. The monthly journal Ptitsevodstvo (Poultry Raising; since 1951) and textbooks, manuals, and monographs on poultry husbandry are published.
In 1972 egg production totaled (in tons) 4,179,000 in the United States, 1,795,000 in Japan, 948,000 in the Federal Republic of Germany, 870,000 in Great Britain, 672,000 in France, 570,000 in Italy, 410,000 in Poland, 253,000 in the German Democratic Republic, 200,000 in Czechoslovakia, and 195,000 in Hungary. Poultry meat production in 1972 was (in tons) 6,585,000 in the United States, 850,000 in France, 651,000 in Italy, 590,000 in Great Britain, 540,000 in Canada, 420,000 in Japan, 245,000 in Hungary, 145,000 in Poland, 135,000 in the German Democratic Republic, 125,000 in Bulgaria, and 110,000 in Czechoslovakia.
In the United States, Canada, and several European countries vertical integration in poultry raising has developed (seeVERTICAL INTEGRATION). The amount and volume of production at the large establishments and the farms contractually bound to them are increasing because of the reduction in the number of small farms. Feed companies and hatcheries head the large enterprises, as a rule.
In foreign socialist countries, the production of poultry products by state and cooperative farms is increasing, and large mechanized enterprises for the production of eggs and poultry meat are being set up. The coordination of scientific research and practical achievements by the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) has greatly contributed to the development of poultry husbandry. The World Poultry Science Association (founded 1912) organizes international congresses and conferences to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience.
Foreign trade in poultry products is mainly between neighboring countries. In Europe, the principal exporters are the Eastern European countries.
REFERENCESNikitin, V. P. Ptitsevodstvo, 2nd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1955.
Smetnev, S. I. Ptitsevodstvo, 5th ed. Moscow, 1970.
Bozhko, P. E. Proizvodstvo iaits i miasa ptitsy v spetsializirovannykh khoziaistvakh. Moscow, 1971.
Promyshlennoe ptitsevodstvo: Spravochnik. Moscow, 1971.
Hutt, F. B. Animal Genetics. New York, 1964.
Scott, M. L., M. C. Nesheim, and R. J. Ioung. Nutrition of the Chicken. New York, 1969.
Physiology and Biochemistry of the Domestic Fowl, vols. 1–3. London-New York, 1971.
S. I. SMETNEV